The Darling I Killed

Here’s a deleted scene from my novel The Golden Cut: A Surrealist Western, for all you Cowhead completists out there.

(Yes, there’s a blooper reel too. But it mainly consists of me swearing at my laptop in my pyjamas.)

The story so far:

Circus stunt rider TJ Breckenridge is more than usually attached to a horse named Cowhead. Because Cowhead is no ordinary circus animal: secret daughter of TJ’s lover, she is simultaneously horse and human. After many luridly trippy adventures, the pair find themselves imprisoned in a hacienda that seems to have a dangerous mind of its own…

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“One, two, three… wake up!”
Cowhead fell off the bunk.
“This isn’t working.”
TJ sighed. “There must be a way.”
“Well, you yelling ‘wake up’ into my ear while I’m asleep sure as hell isn’t it.” Cowhead sat on the edge of the bunk and rested her elbows on her knees, mirroring TJ’s pose so that their heads were almost touching. “Why don’t you try?’
“I’m afraid of losing control if I go to sleep. Especially as Cantos might invade my dream like he did before.”
“I don’t mean to injure your famous vanity, TJ, but I don’t think Cantos is very interested in you now that he’s got what he wanted.”
“Then why is he still hanging around the hacienda? Why hasn’t he ridden out to go and take over the Eleven Twenty-Threes or rule the world or whatever the hell it is he wants?”
“I don’t know. But I doubt it’s anything that’s going to help us get out of here, and that’s why we have to keep trying.”
“Keep trying what?” asked Little Dove, stepping into the room. TJ and Cowhead gazed at the floor in silence. Little Dove sat down on the bunk beside Cowhead and leaned towards them both. “Cantos scares me. Be careful.”
Cowhead snorted. “Little late for that, wouldn’t you say?”
“Yes. Sorry. Dumb thing to say.” She rubbed her hand over her face. “But I wasn’t afraid of him before. I am now. I know you got no reason to trust me or even listen to me, after all that’s been done to you, and the part I’ve played. I know,” she repeated, her voice low. “But I thought it was a one-time deal: imprison you two in here for a while, show the thigh to the Eleven Twenty-Threes, then put it back here where he found it, and let you go. I know that don’t make it right, but I swear I never thought this was going to be a forever thing. If he don’t bring that thigh back to the hacienda, he knows there’s a price to pay. What’s scaring me is that it seems he’s willing to pay it.”
“What are you talking about? What’s going to happen if he doesn’t bring it back?”
Little Dove shifted her weight, avoiding their eyes. “This stuff goes over my head. All I know about it is, when the thigh goes, he goes, and maybe we all go along with him.”
A breath of a pause, then Cowhead whinnied. “Bullshit. Your sister know about this?”
“She knows what I know, and I know what she knows. But we don’t both feel the same way about it any more.”
“That sounds like at least three good reasons for us not to talk to you,” said TJ evenly. “Anything else you want?”
Little Dove stood up. “I just wanted you to know.”
“So now we know. And your sister knows that we know. And what goddam good any of this is supposed to do I’ve no idea, if you meant it to do us any good at all. Don’t let the door hit you in the arse on the way out.” TJ spat at Little Dove’s retreating heels.
“The fuck was all that about?” said Cowhead when the door banged shut.
“Not sure,” mused TJ. “But it was about something.”

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Image in the public domain.

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